Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Contribute Climate Model to Study That Finds Some Winds Decreasing

29.06.2009
A team of three Iowa State University researchers contributed to a study that found average wind speeds across the country have decreased by an average of .5 percent to 1 percent per year since 1973.

Declining wind speeds in parts of the United States could impact more than the wind power industry, say Iowa State University climate researchers.

Three Iowa State researchers contributed their expertise in modeling North America’s climate to a study to be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres. The study – led by Sara C. Pryor, a professor of atmospheric science at Indiana University Bloomington – found that wind speeds across the country have decreased by an average of .5 percent to 1 percent per year since 1973.

“The study found that across the country wind speeds were decreasing – more in the East than in the West, and more in the Northeast and the Great Lakes,” said Gene Takle, an Iowa State professor of geological and atmospheric sciences and agronomy.

In Iowa, a state that ranks second in the country for installed wind power capacity, Takle said the study found annual wind speed declines that matched the average for the rest of the country.

The study’s findings made headlines across the country. Most of those stories focused on the potential implications for the wind power industry.

But Iowa State’s team of climate researchers – Takle; Ray Arritt, a professor of agronomy; and Bill Gutowski, a professor of geological and atmospheric sciences – say the study raised other issues and questions, too.

The study looked at eight sets of wind data going back to 1973 and up to 2005: actual wind speed measurements from anemometers; a hybrid of measurements and computerized climate models; and two different regional climate models. Iowa State researchers contributed a regional model of North America’s climate they’ve worked with since the early 1990s. It’s a community model that researchers across the globe share and use. The Iowa State researchers have used the model to run long-term climate simulations.

Takle said there wasn’t a lot of agreement between the measurements and the various models. The model that most closely matched the measurements was the one used by the Iowa State researchers.

Gutowski said the differences aren’t surprising because the study was an initial examination of surface wind trends. He also said those differences tell climate researchers they have more work to do.

“We see this trend toward slower wind speeds and our unanswered question is whether this is part of global warming or something else,” Gutowski said. “What we’re poking into here is not something that’s commonly explored. Most studies look at temperature and precipitation, not surface winds.”

But the researchers said slower surface winds can have significant impacts beyond the wind power industry.

Crops, for example, depend on the wind for ventilation and cooling. Slower winds could mean higher field temperatures and less productive crops.

Slower winds could also mean more dew covering crops for longer periods, Takle said. That could mean problems with fungus and plant disease. That could also lead to lower yields at harvest time.

In cities, slower winds can mean more pollution and heat, the Iowa State researchers said.

“Air pollution episodes in major cities happen when there’s high pressure and stagnant air,” Takle said. “Less wind means less ventilation and less sweeping away of pollutants.”

Slower winds can also be a problem when heat waves hit a city, he said. The winds wouldn’t dissipate as much heat, allowing heat to linger and build.

All of those potential impacts need further study, the researchers said. And so does the cause of the apparent decline in the country’s wind speeds.

Takle suggested three possibilities for the trend: changes in instrumentation produced flawed measurements (though Takle said researchers made corrections to account for the changes); the study didn’t account for land-use changes such as development and tree planting that slowed winds near instruments; or the climate is changing and one consequence is slower winds.

Arritt said the study appears to support theories that climate change could affect surface winds.

“There are some good theoretical reasons to think that global warming will cause lighter winds in regions between the tropics and the Arctic,” Arritt said. “But we like to confirm our theory with data, and our results make us think the theory is on track.”

Contacts:
Gene Takle, Geographical and Atmospheric Sciences/Agronomy, (515) 294-9871, gstakle@iastate.edu
Bill Gutowski, Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, (515) 294-5632, gutowski@iastate.edu

Ray Arritt, Agronomy, (515) 294-9870, rwarritt@bruce.agron.iastate.edu

Mike Krapfl | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.iastate.edu

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>